Review Summary: Get slightly better than mediocre
A year after a surprisingly stellar comeback record from Nebraska Omaha’s Cursive, they drop another record from the same sessions. While Vitrolia
was relatively well-received by critics and fans alike, the sister record to Vitrolia
seems to be less hyped, less liked, and overall less effective. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some remarkable moments scattered throughout. There is maybe a case that this is one of the most stylistically Cursive records they have made so far.
It’s pretty Cursive-y in the sense that the riffs are jagged, the subject matter is typically serious, but also that many of the songs and thus the record is fairly uneven.
For example a song like “Stranded Satellite” is and should be considered one of the better Cursive songs they’ve released so far. It’s got a catchy chorus and a pummeling rhythm that instantly grabs you by the cuffs. However, it is followed by “Marigolds” which is uneventful, minimalist (in a lazy way), and just sad for the sake of being sad without any sort of larger picture or resolution.
Lyrically this record is pretty inconsistent as well. “Black Hole Town” is a song that seems relatable and real. With lines about getting a slightly better job than minimum wage and filling up your days with thoughts of a vague and maybe better future. It speaks of a very typical life in the American workforce and the ***ty towns that employees have to live in. It’s a bleak song but it’s an actual soul-sucking life for many people in the US. In typical Cursive fashion though, for every well-written song about the harsh realities of the American nightmare, you also get a song like “Barricades.”
“Barricades” is pandering at its best and a straight up lie at its worst. Singer Tim Kasher at one point says “I didn’t know what segregation meant.” Really Tim? Aren’t you pushing 50? You’ve never been able to crack that case? The lyrics the “Barricades” are possibly the most cringeworthy words Kasher has ever penned which is really saying something. Somehow an aging white guy with moderate success in the music business makes racism and inequality about him. That being said, Kasher sings with passion (whether it’s fake or not) and musically the song kicks ass. How you feel about “Barricades” probably determines how you feel about most of the record.
Another case for how this the most typical Cursive record ever is it seems like an amalgamation of all their previous records. “Look What’s Become of Us” could have easily made it into Happy Hollow
with its quick pace, sarcastic tone, and general annoying quality. The title track sounds like The Ugly Organ
with its epic scope and cello-soaked calamity. “I Am Goddamn” has a riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on Domestica
. Cursive fleshed out their sound and added a few more members and it all sounds like one big Cursive monolith even though their styles have varied significantly since their inception in the early 90’s.
They still have bass player Matt Maginn who needs to be regarded as the bands most consistent member and he wins that distinction by a mile and a half. Drummer Clint Schnase continues where he left off before he quit with his trademark hip hop mixed with punk mixed with indie rock type of play. After Vitrolia
his return to the band is now a huge boon for their sound and their uniqueness as a band. Guitar player Ted Stevens is still jagged and stabbing and dissonant which complements Tim Kasher’s guitar playing very well.
While not their best release by a long shot it still cements Cursive as a stylistic force to be reckoned with in the music world. Although disappointing it isn’t the sort of drop off that could bury them out of peoples interest. They probably won’t ever again reach the heights they did in the early 2000’s either in popularity or in quality but Get Fixed
doesn’t necessarily tarnish the Cursive legacy and in many ways might add to it. Because for all it’s flaws, when it’s good it’s good